So exactly who is smarter here?

July 8, 2022

By Jeff Becraft


I am not so sure about the smart in smartphone.

I do enjoy the camera, and being able to listen to songs while I mow the lawn, and the GPS.

But the GPS… it leaves me wondering sometimes.  Like when it tells me there is a 6 minute slow down but we have already been sitting there for 6 minutes and the interstate is red for a looonnngggg time on the map.

One time when I was coming back from Maryland, I left later than usual – 3:40 p.m.  This is far from ideal.  You want to avoid the Washington beltway between 3-7 p.m.  I was already in the danger zone.

If you time it right, I-95 is still the shortest and quickest route.  There is another route, though… taking I-66 West and hitting I-81 South and then catching I-77 South back to Columbia.

My GPS was telling me to take the I-95 route.  As I was heading around the beltway, I had to make a quick decision as the exit for 66 was coming.

The gears were rolling in my mind.  It was rush hour, 95 would take me through the “mixing bowl” (northern Virginia where 95, 495, and 395 all converge… if you have driven it, there is nothing in your mind that questions the name).  I have witnessed more than once 95 South just totally backed up.

As 66 approached, I went with what I thought was the safer decision… I turned off on to 66.

My GPS kept telling me to take the next exit and turn around and head back towards 95.  I figured the GPS would recalculate and reroute for 66.  But no… every single exit, it would come on and tell me to take the exit and turn around.  This went on for 20 miles.  I could look over at 66 East and see the cars backing up.

Finally, in exasperation, I exclaimed in an exasperating sort of voice, “Look… one of us needs to get a clue and it’s not me!”

As I approached the next exit, here it came again, “Take this exit and… “

I then proclaimed, “I am not going back towards Washington!”

Once I was telling my phone that it was not very smart.  It then spoke back to me, “Actually, I am very smart.  Would you like to know why?”

I blurted out, “No!”  And turned off the phone.

What… the phone is talking back to me?  What is this – 2001: A Space Odyssey?”

So exactly who is smarter here?  The phone that wants to take me back to the Washington beltway during rush hour and through the mixing bowl… or the person who is talking to their phone like it is a person?

I’ll let you decide.


Jeff Becraft is the Director Emeritus for Youth Corps and has dedicated much of his life to helping shift the vision of people’s lives. Youth Corps is a life-changing leadership development experience that inspires high school students to be leaders in the Midlands and beyond. You can connect with Jeff at [email protected].